BRADENTON - David Magley took a seat on the edge of the scorer's table and didn't sugarcoat his words.
"This is the biggest game of the year for us," said Bradenton Christian's boys basketball coach. "It keeps us in district play."
Fortunately for Magley, one of his biggest Panthers played his best as the minutes wound down.
Bradenton Christian defeated rival Sarasota Christian 57-50 on Thursday night in front of a packed, standing-room only crowd stuffed into BCS' gymnasium.
Magley's son, D.J., the team's 6-foot-9 center, paced all scorers with 26 points, totaling 13 of those in the game's pivotal third quarter.
But it was the play of junior forward Cole Hudson that helped the Panthers (7-6, 5-1 Class 1A-District 12) hold on. Magley was saddled with his fourth foul with roughly six minutes left in the fourth quarter and picked up his fifth with 1:19 remaining and BCS up four.
Enter Hudson. The 6-foot-5 forward missed all six field-goal attempts and was 5 of 10 from the foul line. But he erased all that by grabbing eight of his 18 rebounds during the fourth quarter, allowing BCS to thrive without its star.
"You can't replace him - he's the best player here," Hudson said of Magley. "We all know we've got to step it up when he goes out."
Most of Hudson's boards came on the defensive end, but none were more important than when he spun and hit an open Jonathan Negrin with a half-court pass.
The BCS freshman netted a reverse layup with about 25 seconds left to give the Panthers a 53-47 lead.
"Cole is just a flat competitor," David Magley said. "He just brings it every night, every chance he gets."
The coach was just as pleased with his crop of young players. With senior point guard Kevin Yoder out for the year, BCS has turned to a group of freshman that was key Thursday.
Michael Frey scored 11 points, Jonathan Negrin scored five while his brother, Jordan, grabbed six rebounds. And reserve Robert Edwards added 10 points.
"Our freshmen have had to deal with tremendous pressure the entire year, since Kevin got hurt," David Magley said. "They're handling pressure better than I've seen it handled."
Before the game, the Gulf Coast Officials Association presented a $3,000 check to the family of Anthony Negrin. The brother of Jordan and Jonathan, Anthony has a rare blood disease, Fanconi anemia, and will undergo a bone-marrow transplant at the end of the month.
SARASOTA CHRISTIAN (50) - Zach Helmuth 5 2-4 13, Spence Purnell 6 5-6 17, Brad Miller 3 0-1 6, Austin Helmuth 0 0-0 0, Jed Hostetler 2 2-2 6, Jeff Giesler 3 0-0 8, Stephen Hostetler 0 0-0 0, Beau Barnett 0 0-0 0, Mark Lehman 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 9-13 50.
BRADENTON CHRISTIAN (57) - Michael Frey 4 2-4 11, Cole Hudson 0 5-10 5, D.J. Magley 11 3-4 26, Jordan Negrin 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Negrin 2 0-0 5, Robert Edwards 5 0-1 10, Daniel Magley 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 10-19 57.
Sarasota Christian 13 17 7 13 - 50
Bradenton Christian 17 10 17 13 - 57
3-pointers: Sarasota Christian 3 (Giesler 2, Z. Helmuth); Bradenton Christian 3 (Frey, D.J. Magley, Jon Negrin). Total fouls: Sarasota Christian 18; Bradenton Christian 12. Fouled out: Giesler (Sarasota Christian). D.J. Magley (Bradenton Christian). Records: Sarasota Christian 7-3, 3-1 Class 1A-District 12; Bradenton Christian 7-6, 5-1.